What Can We Do For Lent?
For many of us, the first thing that comes to our mind when Lent rolls around is, “What should I give up?” Do we really understand why we give up something for Lent? Maybe we should shift our attitudes to thinking, “For Whom am I giving something up?” And, “What can I do to grow closer to God?” It is a time to strengthen our spiritual muscles and to put our priorities in order. God first, our neighbor’s second, and us, last.
We live in a society which seeks to comfort self, and to fulfill the fleshly passions; whether it be through food, drink or sexual promiscuity. We seem to have lost the meaning of “sacrifice.” The definition of sacrifice is: “Surrendering a possession as an offering to God; something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause.”
Lent is a time not to allow our inordinate passions to dominate us; but rather to suppress our hungers in order for the deeper hungers to emerge from within our souls. Primarily, the hunger for God! If we are always seeking to satisfy ourselves, we then have no need for God. Lent is a time to imitate Jesus, who spent forty days and forty nights in the desert, communing with the Father and battling against the world, the flesh and devil; so must we battle against these three, and all their deceits that seek to bring us down.
We may ask, “What can I do during Lent? What are practical ways that I can make sacrifices?” Here are a few practical suggestions that could be helpful, especially for Catholics: *Spend more time with your Creator and Redeemer in Eucharistic adoration. He is longing to spend intimate time with you and desires that you get to know Him in a deeper way. We can attend Mass daily or more frequently, to strengthen our hearts with this heavenly bread for this forty day journey.
*Pray the most powerful prayer, 2nd to the Holy Mass, the Holy Rosary; it can help you to meditate more deeply on the passion of Christ, in and through the heart of Mary, the One who was there and who knows and loves Him most.
*Make the Stations of the Cross, to reflect more deeply on the passion and death of Jesus, especially on Fridays during Lent. Catholic Churches usually have Stations of the Cross mounted inside the Church, depicting the passion and death of Christ. You can purchase a Stations of the Cross booklet to help you meditate on Christ’s passion. Many Parishes even have a set time every Friday to pray the Stations as a community.
*We can fast from television, internet, gossiping, or even from things that we enjoy the most; And use that extra time to pray and reflect on God’s infinite love for us. Giving to the poor and other forms of alms-giving are also suggested to practice during Lent. God has given many of us abundant gifts that we can share with those who are less fortunate. As Scripture says, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Mt 25:40)
Let us remember that sacrifice is “something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause.” Jesus gave up His life for us and took the ugliness of our sins upon His sacred body, in order for us to have eternal life. He made the ultimate sacrifice!
Do we remember the Scripture passage where Jesus explained to His Apostles that He was about to undergo extreme suffering, because He wanted their hearts to be prepared? Well, Peter didn’t like the idea of Jesus suffering, so Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter,“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mt 16: 22-23).
We can have a tendency to react to suffering and sacrifice as Peter did; and, Jesus responds the same way to us… “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
After putting Peter in his place, Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.” (Matthew 16:24-27)
When we look at the cross, we see a positive; not a negative sign! And this is because after the crucifixion, is the resurrection! Lent is a grace-filled time given to us to prepare our hearts for the Kingdom of God; and to grow in a deeper, intimate relationship with our suffering Lord who loves us so much! May we strive to make sincere sacrifices to the Lord this holy Lenten Season and to die to our inordinate passions; so that we may also rise with Him come Easter Sunday!
by: Sr. Mary Clare Wax
Missionary of Our Mother of the Eucharist